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Bulls host WVU to open second half of Big East season

After faltering late in the game against No. 3 Connecticut last weekend, the USF women’sbasketball team returns home to host West Virginia in the CampusRecreation Center tonight tobegin the second half of itsconference slate.

After beating Seton Hall just a week ago, coach Jose Fernandez made home games a key point.

“You need to protect your home floor,” he said. “With our record, we can’t afford to lose any more home games. We’ve got toprotect the home floor if we wantto finish with a good enoughconference record to go to the NCAA Tournament.”

Despite the 72-62 loss toUConn, USF (12-10, 4-4) still entersthis game with some measure of positive momentum.

Junior guard Caitlin Rowe led the Bulls in scoring during the loss, with a career-high 20 points, including four made 3-pointers – one short of her previous season total of five.

Contributing to the 3-pointshootout, junior guard IngaOrekhova stepped up, addinganother five 3-pointers andrecovering from a poor shootingeffort in her previous gameagainst Seton Hall, when she went 0-of-7 from the 3-point range.

The Mountaineers (15-6, 5-3)arrive in Tampa after a dominanthome win over Marquette. After the 53-32 win over the GoldenEagles on Saturday, WestVirginia ranks second in theBig East in scoring defense.

Though the West Virginiadefense is playing well, having not allowed a single Marquette player to score double-digit points last week, both offenses are producingsimilar numbers. West Virginia stands at sixth in the Big East in scoring offense, with an averageof 67.1 points per game, whileUSF trails at seventh with 64.8.

Tonight’s game is the first offour home games the Bulls will play in the final eight games of theregular season as they try toimprove their seeding for the Big East Tournament and qualify for the postseason.